Today we’re joining people across the globe in celebrating #GivingTuesday (@GivingTues), a day dedicated to giving, and a movement that challenges us to ask ourselves, “How can I give back?”

Created on Twitter and founded by New York’s 92nd Street Y (@92Y) in partnership with the UN Foundation (@UNFoundation), #GivingTuesday has propelled into a global movement fueled by the power of millions of people uniting on Twitter for good. Now in its fourth year, #GivingTuesday has more than 30,000 organizations on board and raised more than $100 million in donations in just one day last year. In 2014 alone, #GivingTuesday Tweets received over 32.7M impressions and 750K hashtag mentions.

To learn more about how this inspiring movement began and how anyone can get involved on Twitter today, we spoke with movement founder Henry Timms (@htimms), Executive Director of 92nd Street Y.

Where did the idea for #GivingTuesday come from?

After Thanksgiving, there was Black Friday and Cyber Monday — two days for getting deals — and we thought, what about a day for giving back? That’s how we got to #GivingTuesday. We also wanted to find a way to bring people together around giving back, to share their passions and their favorite causes on #GivingTuesday, and create connections on social media that would translate into people connecting more with each other in real life.

How has Twitter been instrumental in building awareness about the #GivingTuesday movement?

Obviously, the hashtag was critical from the start, and it served as a kind of shorthand to people on social media that this movement was talking to them, and looking to be in their space.

Twitter was the tool that connected the movement. As the initiative has rolled out, spreading the word through Twitter chats and memes like the #unselfie have been a huge part of #GivingTuesday’s evolution and growth.

What are some unique ways you’ve seen charities leverage Twitter to connect with donors, and vice versa?

The Michael J. Fox Foundation encouraged people to share “a picture of someone or something that represents your reason for giving” to support the foundation. They wound up with tremendously moving portraits of people’s moms and dads and grandparents and partners, and it really brought that cause to life and inspired donors. Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue also used Twitter to tell their story — posting photos and Tweets of how they rescued dogs from a “high-kill” animal shelter — with lots of pictures of adorable dogs that told a story of hope rather than despair.

How can people, businesses, and charities get involved with #GivingTuesday?

There are so many ways to get involved in #GivingTuesday — in addition to making monetary donations, give blood, give a coat, give your time. There is even a campaign this year to encourage organ donation.

Any great success stories from #GivingTuesday that you can share?

There are many different kinds of success we’ve seen in the #GivingTuesday movement. Here are just two: the University of Michigan created #GivingBlueDay last year, and reached out to alumni and students to raise awareness and drive donations; they exceeded their goal of $1 million by more than double, raising over $3.2 million. And then there is World Bicycle Relief, which organized a campaign to raise funds to buy 500 bikes for students in Africa, and they used fun graphics and social media to spread the word effectively enough to raise enough money for 754 bikes.

What has surprised you most about #GivingTuesday?

I wouldn’t say “surprised” as much as “inspired.” And that’s the growth of the movement in places where Black Friday and Cyber Monday don’t exist; the huge creative capacity of the social sector, and the growth of the local and regional campaigns across the country.

How do you see #GivingTuesday evolving over the new few years?

Our hope is that whatever the details look like, #GivingTuesday will continue to provide an opportunity for people around the world to take a break from the news of the day, which can often be so painful, to think about the power we all have to make a positive difference, especially when we step across boundaries to come together to give. We want this to truly become the opening day of the giving season.

Start giving

We’re inspired by Henry and proud to be part of the #GivingTuesday movement. To research and donate to charities on Twitter, browse our collection of #GivingTuesday Tweets below. And, make sure to follow @GivingTues to stay up to date with the movement year round.

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